May 25, 2019

Archives for February 2016

Irmar Foundation Donates $20,000 to Operation Fuel

opfuel-logo-lg1OLD SAYBROOK – The Irmar Foundation/Wayne Eisenbaum Charitable Foundation, located in Old Saybrook, has donated $20,000 to Operation Fuel for its energy assistance program.

Operation Fuel is a private, nonprofit program that provides emergency energy assistance year-round through its statewide network of fuel banks to lower-income working families and individuals, the elderly, and disabled individuals who are in financial crisis. For more information on Operation Fuel or to make a donation, go to


Vista Changes Its Name to Reflect More Clearly Its Expanded Services, Programs

Vista student Julia Kane, Chief Executive Officer Helen Bosch and member Rachael Hoskin (L-R) proudly show off the new organizational logo. Photo: Vanessa Pereira

Vista student Julia Kane, Chief Executive Officer Helen Bosch and member Rachael Hoskin (L-R) proudly show off the new organizational logo. Photo: Vanessa Pereira

AREAWIDE – Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center, an organization dedicated to assisting individuals with disabilities achieve personal success for more than 25 years, will soon take on a new name, Vista Life Innovations.

The name change is part of a long planned rebranding initiative to better align Vista’s name with its expanded service and program offerings.

“Over the past 25 years, Vista has become more than a vocational and life skills center,” said Vista’s Chief Executive Officer Helen Bosch. “We now offer a wide array of services—such as arts programming, benefits and advocacy counseling, and recreation—and we wanted a name that represented who we are as a whole.”

Vista leadership and members of its Board of Directors worked together to come up with a name that reflected the organization’s values, while describing what Vista is without focusing on specific aspects of the program.

Although its name will change, Vista’s mission and focus remain the same. For that reason, it was important that “Vista” remain in the name.

“Our scope of services has changed but we are fundamentally the same—an organization that provides services and programming for individuals with disabilities so they may achieve success,” said Bosch.

The new organizational name will go into effect the week of Feb. 15, along with the launch of a new website.

With campuses in Westbrook, Madison and Guilford, Vista is a community-based education program accredited by the National Commission for the Accreditation of Special Education Services. Last year, the organization provided services to more than 300 individuals and their families.

Editor’s Note: Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center is a 501©3 nonprofit organization. Vista’s mission is to provide services and resources to assist individuals with disabilities achieve personal success. For more information about Vista, please visit


Put a Little Spring in Your Step – Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks, Starting April 11

CENTERBROOK – Haven’t you always wanted to learn to tango? Or brush up your foxtrot ready for your daughter’s wedding? Or how about just have a little fun learning to do the hustle?

The Ivoryton Playhouse might have just what you are looking for. In the spirit of its May production of the same name, the Playhouse is offering a series of 6 dance lessons in 6 weeks, covering all the dances that are featured in the show – tango, foxtrot, Vienna waltz, the hustle, cha cha and a contemporary dance.

The classes will be held at the Centerbrook Meeting House on Mondays, beginning April 11, at 6:30 p.m. They will be taught by Apollo Smile, the Playhouse’s talented choreographer. Apollo will be joined by Mary Varano, who is well known in Connecticut as the longtime owner of Arthur Murray Studios.

Class size is extremely limited so don’t wait to register. The fee is $150 per couple. Register by calling Krista May at (860) 767-9520 ext 205 or email


Chester Selectwoman Invites Residents to Informal Morning Chats

First Selectwoman Lauren Gister chatted with Mark Russell about the Main Street bridge construction at The Villager on Feb. 10 after answering questions from residents. This was the first of the occasional “chats” Gister is holding to give residents a chance to talk with her.

First Selectwoman Lauren Gister chatted with Mark Russell about the Main Street bridge construction at The Villager on Feb. 10 after answering questions from residents. This was the first of the occasional “chats” Gister is holding to give residents a chance to talk with her.

CHESTER – First Selectwoman Lauren Gister is inviting residents to share with her their concerns, ask questions and give ideas at informal gatherings.

Gister said, “This will become a weekly or biweekly occurrence, at different times of day and at various venues over the next few months, but I need a name for this event, so I am holding a contest.  The resident who comes up with the best title for this new tradition will get a free breakfast or lunch at the Villager.”

The next “chat” will be on Thursday, Feb. 18, between 8 and 9 a.m. at Simon’s Marketplace. Gister has invited people to “grab a coffee or breakfast and bring ideas and questions.”



Letter from Paris: Europe and the Migrant Crisis

Nicole Prévost Logan

Nicole Prévost Logan

During the month of January 2016, 55,000 migrants have crossed the Aegean Sea, or 21 times the number that made the same journey in January 2015. In 2015, a total of 856,000 arrived in Europe, 90 percent of them coming from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Today, there is an urgency in the face of this inexorable phenomenon, which is bound not only to continue but also to increase. It is expected that with the spring’s milder weather, there will be a surge of four times that number. The net result — Europe has a window of six to eight weeks to manage the crisis.

Everybody agrees on what should be done to stop the flow of refugees: end the war in Syria; defeat ISIS; provide financial help to the countries that have taken in the most refugees, i.e., Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey; police the Mediterranean by destroying the derelict boats ferrying the migrants and put a stop to the profitable business of the smugglers. But there has been an absence of a leadership in carrying out a common plan of action.

At the outset of the crisis Angela Merkel was the only one to offer a clear strategy. For her, Turkey was the key country to work with since three quarters of the migrants pass through its territory. She even made the trip to meet President Erdogan in Antalya. She supported the European Commission’s decision to pay Turkey three billion dollars for keeping 2.2 million refugees. The Turks demanded that amount every year, Europe settled for a bi-annual payment. Driving a hard bargain, the Turks demanded that Europe wave its visa requirements for Turkish nationals traveling to Europe. Ankara even asked for the resumption of the process of adhesion into Europe – a demand the European Union is refusing unanimously today as it has for 52 years..

Last September, Merkel announced she would welcome 800,000 refugees in Germany but she had not predicted the ensuing surge and her policy has backfired. She has become increasingly isolated as those countries, at first favorable to her policies, started closing their borders, practicing more restrictive policies toward the migrants, and expelling the ones not qualifying for the status of “refugees.”

After the alleged mass rapes of women in Cologne on New Year’s Eve, German public opinion has become increasingly hostile to the presence of hundreds of thousands of young Muslim men not used to mixing with women in public places. This event was reminiscent of the plight of many German women at the end of the Nazi period. “The collective memory of outrage has overcome the compassion for the migrants,” declared Michaela Wieger, the French correspondent for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, on a radio talk show Jan. 30.

ARTE, the Franco-German television channel gave an overview of the migrant’s situation on Feb. 2. The three-hour- long documentary takes the viewer from Calais to Montenegro to Spain.

The situation in Calais in northern France is a festering problem. The number of migrants, who live in abysmal conditions, has grown from 2,000 a year ago to 6,000. Their lifeline is provided by humanitarian aid. The mood is explosive and turning ugly. The migrants are endangering the safety of the Euro-tunnel, which has been turned into a fortress.

The picture so far is positive in Germany, which finds in the migrants a much needed source of labor. The town of Passau, Bavaria, which is situated on the Danube, is the hub of communications. This is where the trains full of migrants converge. In an efficient manner, the new arrivals are greeted, trained and encouraged to learn German. In Leipzig, workers are building wooden homes that can house 60 people. The houses come in a kit and can be assembled in one day. A German firm has outsourced the construction of containers – turned into living quarters – to a Polish factory. The units cannot be built fast enough to meet the demand. However, all the people interviewed in the ARTE program say that they have already reached their saturation point and will be unable to absorb more migrants

There is consensus today that the priority for Europe is to protect its external borders. Greece is described as the number one “hotspot” whose job is to screen and process the migrants. This task is colossal and it is understandable that Greece cannot cope. Being reluctant to impose its own sovereignty, Brussels has decided to give the country three months to improve its work. If it does not, a large contingent of European Frontex officials and additional reserves will be sent as substitutes.

In addition, the EU may decide to deactivate Article 26 of the Schengen treaty. This will mean the suspension, for at least two years, of the free circulation of persons, goods and capital between the 28 member states.

Brussels would hate to make that very serious decision.Schengen has been called an “accelerator of growth,” since its creation, says Wieger, but it was intended to function in normal times, which these clearly are not. The cost to reestablish internal borders will reach at least 100 billion Euros a year.But, more importantly, the “Schengen Space”is one of the main pillars of Europe.Indeed, it is a core principle.

“The problem of migrants is, in fact, in front of us,” commented Sylvie Kauffman, senior editor of the French daily Le Monde. “Next, we will have to face massive flows of economic refugees from Africa, due to its demography”.

It is a difficult time for Europe, and for the French in particular, to abdicate sacred principles such as the right of asylum and to see the very existence of Europe threatened.

Nicole Logan

Nicole Prévost Logan

About the author: Nicole Prévost Logan divides her time between Essex and Paris, spending summers in the former and winters in the latter. She writes a regular column for us from her Paris home where her topics will include politics, economy, social unrest — mostly in France — but also in other European countries. She also covers a variety of art exhibits and the performing arts in Europe. Logan is the author of ‘Forever on the Road: A Franco-American Family’s Thirty Years in the Foreign Service,’ an autobiography of her life as the wife of an overseas diplomat, who lived in 10 foreign countries on three continents. Her experiences during her foreign service life included being in Lebanon when civil war erupted, excavating a medieval city in Moscow and spending a week under house arrest in Guinea.


Registration Begins for Summer Dance Programs at Eastern Connecticut Ballet

Registration for all Summer Dance classes at Eastern Connecticut Ballet has begun.

AREAWIDE – Eastern Connecticut Ballet’s Summer Dance program will help all young dancers to grow and improve. The school for classical ballet training is offering many different workshops at its East Lyme studio in July and August with options of taking a single or multi-week program.

The youngest dancers (ages 3½-6) may enroll in a Storybook Magic Adventure featuring ballet, jazz and special crafts.  The Petite Dancer Workshop (ages 6-8) is designed to bridge the gap between the young children’s program and the graded classical ballet program.  Older children (ages 8-12) will build their skills and have fun in the Young Professional Summer Workshop.

More experienced students will benefit from the Intermediate/Advanced Workshop and/or the Summer Intensive, “In Balanchine’s Footsteps.”

Headlining the guest faculty for the Intensive is New York City Ballet’s extraordinary principal dancer Sara Mearns, described by Alastair Macaulay of the New York Times as “the great American ballerina of our era.”  “In Balanchine’s Footsteps” will also be taught by Pennsylvania Ballet principal Amy Aldridge and Gloria Govrin, ECB Artistic Director, master teacher and former New York City Ballet soloist.  These distinguished artists were either students of Balanchine or members of companies in the Balanchine tradition.  To round out the program, students will enjoy jazz with Broadway veteran Mary Ann Lamb and modern dance with Paul Taylor Company member Eran Bugge.

“There’s no better way for a young dancer to learn than from master teachers who were either students of Balanchine or members of companies that embrace his style and choreography,” said ECB executive director Lise Reardon.

In addition, teens and adults may take classes in ballet and jazz on summer evenings. A full schedule, costs and registration form are available at Register by April 8 and receive a $15 discount. For inquiries, call 860-739-7899 or visit ECB at 435 Boston Post Road in East Lyme.


Open House for CBSRZ Youth Programs, April 10

CHESTER – Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ) will host an open house of its youth programs on Sunday, April 10, at 10 a.m. Visitors will have the opportunity to tour the building and meet the staff, youth and parents of the diverse CBSRZ community, which consists of many interfaith families.

At CBSRZ, Jewish traditions, history, celebrations and values are woven into the everyday fabric of life’s modern day challenges. Young people are helped to uncover the riches of the Jewish traditions, to empower and nourish their inner lives and help them discover the possibilities within themselves and in the world.

After the open house, families are invited to stay and see how the youth of CBSRZ tell the story of Passover in their version of “The Living Haggadah.”

If you would like more information prior to the Open House, contact the CBSRZ office at (860) 526-8920 or For further information about the youth programs, please contact Belinda Brennan, Cantor/Educator, by phone or by e-mail at

Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek is located at 55 East Kings Highway in Chester.


Tales of the Schooner Bowdoin, April 10 in Essex


Photo courtesy of Tom Stewart

ESSEX – The schooner Bowdoin is a National Historic landmark vessel, built in 1921 in East Boothbay, Maine, for Arctic research and exploration.  After 26 northern voyages totaling over 300,000 miles, the Bowdoin was sold to the Navy in 1941 and was used, among other things, to help establish airfields in Greenland. She returned to Arctic exploration after the war.

As she approaches her 100th birthday, the Bowdoin serves as a sail training vessel for students at Maine Maritime Academy in Castine.

Learn more about the Bowdoin’s fascinating history and voyages from Essex resident, Captain Heather Stone, former captain of the Bowdoin on Sunday, April 10, at 2 p.m. at the Essex Library.

This program is free and open to all. Please call the library to register at (860) 767-1560. The Essex Library is located at 33 West Avenue in Essex.


Paul Winter Consort to Perform in Chester, April 10

Paul Winter at Crestone (2)a

Paul Winter at Crestone

CHESTER – Seven-time Grammy winner Paul Winter brings the environmental melodies of whales, birds, seals, wolves, elephants and the earth’s melodic treasures to Chester on Sunday, April 10, at 5 p.m. at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek.

Booking such world-renowned musical talent for the synagogue’s Music & More program was not easy, but for the series producer, David Zeleznik, it was the result of an enduring passion.

He says, “I first encountered the Paul Winter Consort as a college student at Northwestern University in the 1970s. As a former student there himself, Paul’s jazz legacy was well known on campus. I was a budding acoustic string musician at the time and I was blown away by the amazing talents of the band and their ability to set a groove with no need for vocals.

“The virtuosity of the guitarist Ralph Towner especially caught my attention, and the Consort’s groundbreaking album ‘Icarus,’ composed by Ralph Towner and produced by George Martin, was breathtaking. [It was taken to the moon by Apollo 15 astronauts.]

“Fast forward four decades…I discovered that Paul Winter’s base of operations is Litchfield County. As I learned about the far-reaching musical projects that Paul Winter had been engaged in, I found that he and his music were as vibrant as ever.

“In fact, I dare say in these ecologically challenged times, his work has fresh urgency and is even more relevant than before. Paul Winter recently completed work on his Flyways project, which celebrates the great bird migration between Africa and Eurasia. That, coupled with his Music for the Earth foundation and its mission of awakening a spirit of involvement in the preservation of wildlife and the Earth’s natural environments, led us to engage the Paul Winter Consort to perform ‘In Celebration of the Earth.’ The program will be an exciting musical connection to nature’s Spring awakening and Earth Day, which follows on April 22.”

As always at Music & More programs, the ticket price includes a reception and a chance to meet the musicians. General admission tickets are $35 in advance through the website,, or $40 at the door, depending on availability.  Tickets for children under 16 are free.

Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek is located at 55 East Kings Highway in Chester. For more information contact the office (860) 526.8920 or visit the website,


Energy Fair & Free LED Light Bulb Swap for Essex Residents, April 9

ESSEX – On Saturday, April 9, the Town of Essex and the Essex Citizens for Clean Energy (ECCE) will host an energy fair and free LED light bulb swap for Essex residents. The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Essex Town Hall.

Essex residents, with identification, may bring up to five incandescent or compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) in any condition and exchange them for new, energy-efficient LED bulbs free of charge. (Offer is for up to 5 LED light bulbs per household while supplies last.) Other styles of LEDs and lighting products will be available for purchase at a discounted rate.

A single LED bulb has a life expectancy of 23 years, uses up to 80 percent less energy, and can save homeowners as much as $10 per year versus a traditional incandescent bulb, which has about a 1.5 to 2.5 year lifespan.

Energy experts from Eversource will be on hand at the light bulb swap to answer questions and provide people with additional information on how they can save money and energy at home, including the popular in-home service, Home Energy SolutionsSM (HES). We will also be show casing how homes are now transitioning to have Home Automation. We can provide help and guidance to turn your home into a smart home – by showing you how smart bulbs work to create complete home automation. There will also be an activity for children and alternative fuel cars from local dealers will be on display.

In addition, a variety of energy-related information and services will be available from vendors such as Competitive Resources, Ameri Group, Southern Connecticut Gas, and Benedetto Heating & AC. Representatives from Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) and the Public Utility Regulation Authority (PURA) will be on hand to talk about the electric industry in Connecticut and discuss selecting suppliers to save money on residential electric bills. (Residents may bring a recent electric bill.) Sites like Simply Switch can also help you save money on your energy, gas and electricity bills and also give you advice on the best providers to find you the latest deals.

The town is using a $4,500 grant, earned through participation in Energize Connecticut’s Clean Energy Communities (CEC) program, to fund the exchange. In October 2012, Essex signed the CEC pledge, committing to make efforts to reduce municipal building energy consumption by 20 percent, attain 20 percent of municipal electricity needs from renewable sources, and take other actions to support the deployment of clean energy by 2018.

Residents and businesses that took advantage of Energize Connecticut energy efficiency solutions helped the community earn the grant and will reap the benefits with this LED giveaway.

For more information about how residents and businesses can save energy and money visit or call 877.WISE.USE (877-947-3873).

For more information on the Energy Fair & LED Light Bulb Swap visit the ECCE website at, call 860-227-7753 or check us out on Facebook.


Search for Vernal Pools and Emerging Life in the Preserve, April 9

#4-SalamanderESSEX – On Saturday, April 9, at 9 a.m., join ecologist and Ivoryton resident Bob Russo on a hike in the Preserve in search for salamanders, frogs and plants emerging from the long winter. He will guide you to a few of the Preserve’s vernal pools and describe the biological and geological features that make these areas so unique and bountiful.

Bob Russo is a soil scientist, wetland scientist and ecologist who frequently played in swamps while growing up. He works for a small engineering company and is also the chair of the Essex Park and Recreation Commission.

Meet at the Preserve East Entrance parking lot, off Ingham Hill Road in Essex. The hike is 1 1/2 hours duration on easy to moderate terrain.  Bring boots.  Open to all ages. Bad weather cancels.


Pasta Supper and Open Mic Night at First Congregational Church in Essex, April 9

Members of the First Congregational Church who are preparing for the April 9 Pasta Supper and Open Mic Night are: (L-R) Delcie McGrath, Essex; Mike Hennessy, East Lyme; Emily Williams, Essex; Sharyn Nelson, Ivoryton; Mary-Lawrence Bickford, Essex; and Richard McGrath, Essex.

Members of the First Congregational Church who are preparing for the April 9 Pasta Supper and Open Mic Night are: (L-R) Delcie McGrath, Essex; Mike Hennessy, East Lyme; Emily Williams, Essex; Sharyn Nelson, Ivoryton; Mary-Lawrence Bickford, Essex; and Richard McGrath, Essex.

ESSEX – The Second Annual Pasta Supper and Open Mic Night will be held on Saturday, April 9 at 6 p.m. at the First Congregational Church in Essex, 6 Methodist Hill in Essex Village. Sponsored by the church’s Justice and Witness Committee, proceeds from the event benefit the $1,000 “Making a Difference” Award, open to graduating seniors at Valley Regional High School (VRHS).

For the all-you-can-eat supper, four choices of pasta with different sauces will be prepared by the church’s chef. Performers of all ages are welcome to showcase their talents at the Open Mic that follows the supper. Please contact Sharyn Nelson at 860-767-9817 if you would like to be included.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children, if ordered in advance by calling the church at 860-767-8097. At the door, tickets are $12 for adults and $5 for children.

The “Making a Difference” Award is given to that graduating senior from VRHS whose actions continue to challenge those ideas and practices that result in the exclusion of others. Award applications are available at the VRHS Counseling Office or at the First Congregational Church in Essex. The application deadline is April 30.

For more information on the Pasta Supper or the “Making A Difference” Award, call the church at 860-767-8097.


Maple and Main Gallery Spring Exhibit Open

"Spring in Paris" by BL Taylor of Essex

“Spring in Paris” by BL Taylor of Essex

CHESTER – The sixth annual Spring Exhibit at Maple and Main Gallery with art from 45 Connecticut artists will open Wednesday, April 6, with a reception Saturday, April 9, from 6 to 8 p.m.

The show of over 200 newly created paintings includes landscapes, marsh and marine views, city and country depictions; abstracts and semi-abstracts in a wide variety of mediums, sizes and price points.

The opening party features a beer and wine tasting by Tony’s Package Store in Haddam plus appetizers and wine. Many of the artists will be on hand.

The Spring Exhibit runs through June 19.

Also during the month of April, the artwork by students at Haddam-Killingworth High School will be exhibited in Maple and Main’s Stone Gallery.

Maple and Main, at the corner of Maple and Main Streets in Chester Center, is open Wednesday and Thursday, noon to 6 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, noon to 7 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Visit and the gallery’s facebook page or call 860-526-6065.


Reynolds Subaru 6th Annual Pet Adoption Event, April 9

subaru 2LYME – Reynolds Subaru and Boats is holding its sixth annual Adopt a Pet event Saturday, April 9, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“We all are looking for the common goal of saving these homeless animals and giving them wonderful lives,” said Hayden Reynolds. “Our past events have brought together the public in more ways than one to help achieve this goal and we are grateful for our customers, community and sponsors who are passionate about helping animals.”

At last year’s event many pets found their new homes and Reynolds Subaru is on a mission to double that this year.

The event will take place at Reynolds Subaru, 264 Hamburg Road, Lyme. There will be complimentary food, refreshments, raffles, and, of course, pets looking for their forever home.

For more information on this event follow or call 860-434-0028.


Carney, Linares to Hold Office Hours in Westbrook Tonight

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State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd)

AREAWIDE — State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) will hold pre-session office hours in Westbrook at the Westbrook Town Hall on Feb. 9, starting at 6:30 p.m.  State Senator Art Linares (R-33rd) and State Representative Jesse MacLachlan (R-35th) will join Carney at the Westbrook event.

State Senator Art Linares

State Senator Art Linares (R-20th)

This session will provide constituents with an opportunity to ask questions or share their ideas and concerns about state government. Anyone with questions about the event can contact Carney’s office at 800-842-1423 or

Carney represents the 23rd General Assembly District that includes Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and part of Westbrook.

Linares represents the 33rd District comprising Lyme along with Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook


Vista Hosts “Pirates of Penzance,” May 20-22

square logoAREAWIDE – “The Pirates of Penzance” will run May 20 through May 22 at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center — The Kate — in Old Saybrook. Hosted by Vista, Pat Souney will direct.

For additional information, contact Amanda Roberts at (860) 399-8080 ext. 255 or

Editor’s Note: Based in Madison and Westbrook, Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center is a 501©3 nonprofit organization.  Vista’s mission is to provide services and resources to assist individuals with disabilities achieve personal success. For more information about Vista, visit


Old Saybrook Library Offers ‘Local & Legal’ Film Series; Next Movie April 8

OLD SAYBROOK — The Acton Public Library in Old Saybrook will be hosting a “Local & Legal” film series at 1 p.m. in the Grady Thomas Room on second Fridays January through May.

The next movie is ‘12 Angry Men,’ which will be shown on April 8; and Erin Brockovich will be shown on May 13.

For more information, call The Acton Library at 860-395-3184, or visit the library during regular hours: Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Oct to May on Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. or visit online at .


Essex Grand List Shows Slight Increase

ESSEX — The grand list of taxable property remained flat in 2015, showing only a slight 0.38 percent increase that was nearly identical to a similar tiny rise in 2014. Assessor Jessica Sypher has filed an October 2015 grand list that totals $1,040,877,591, a net increase of $3,950,411, or 0.38 percent, from the 2014 grand list total.

Sypher said a small decrease in the real estate assessment total was offset by modest increases in the assessment totals for personal property and motor vehicles. The $3,950,411 increase would generate about $83,000 in new tax revenue at the current property tax rate of 21.08 mills. The 0.38 percent increase for 2015 was nearly identical to the slight 0.36 percent rise in the 2014 grand list.

The net assessment total for real estate was $942,723,310, representing a decrease of $523,140 from the 2014 real estate assessment total.  Sypher said nearly all of the decrease resulted from a property owner’s decision to combine two building lots in the high value Foxboro Point subdivision on the Connecticut River.

The net assessment total for motor vehicles was $63,713,960, representing an increase of  $832,790 from the 2014 real estate total. The net assessment total for personal property was $34,440,321, representing an increase of $3,640,761 from the 2014 personal property total. Sypher said nearly all of the increase resulted from the new Southern Connecticut Gas Company natural gas line that was installed in sections of town last year.

The town’s top ten taxpayers showed one change from recent years. Solid waste hauler All Waste Inc. edged local businessman Herbert Clark III, who owns various residential, commercial and industrial properties. Following are the top ten taxpayers with current assessment totals:

  1. Essex Meadows Inc. — $22,875,400
  2. Lee Company — $15,633,120
  3. Connecticut Light & Power — $7,185,030
  4. SKR Partners LLC — $4,315,000
  5. All Waste Inc. — $4,147,560
  6. River Properties Inc. — $3,624,190
  7. Griswold Inn LLC — $3,377,680
  8. Stephen R. Cline Successor Trustee — $3,322,800
  9. Essex Savings Bank — $3,305,820
  10. MacBeth Ventures LLC — $2,759,500

Revaluation Leads to $9 Million Decrease in Deep River Grand List

DEEP RIVER — A townwide property revaluation update completed last year has resulted in a 1.81 percent decrease in the grand list of taxable property.  Assessor Robin O’Loughlin has filed an October 2015 grand list that totals $490,476,253, a decrease of $9,076,156, or 1.81 percent, from the 2014 grand list total.  Small increases in assessment totals for motor vehicles and personal property were offset by an $11.96 million decrease in the real estate assessment total.

The revaluation update, required every five years under state law, was completed last year by O’Loughlin with assistance from Vision Appraisal of Northboro, Mass.  The town had used Vision Appraisal for the full property revaluation, including visual inspections of properties, that was done in 2010.

O’Loughlin said the decrease was less than expected, and smaller than the drop that had occurred with the 2010 revaluation.  The $9 million decrease would represent a loss of about $238,500 in tax revenue at the current property  tax rate of 26.28 mills, or $26.28 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value.  The real estate assessment total was $430,864,720, a decrease of $11,960,340, or about 2.6 percent, from the 2014 real estate total.

The assessment total for motor vehicles was $35,876,260, representing an increase of $1,732,036. The personal property assessment total was $423,735,273, representing an increase of $1,152,148.

First Selectman Richard Smith said assessments for commercial and industrial properties in Deep River increased, despite the drop in assessed values for residential properties.  “We knew it was going to come,” Smith said of the grand list decrease, adding that effect on tax bills would vary between properties.  O’Loughlin said the revaluation was a “smooth process” that has generated few objections from property owners.  “It’s a market adjustment over five years,” she said.

The list of the town’s top ten taxpayers was largely unchanged from recent years.  Following are the top ten taxpayers with assessment totals.  The Boyd-Dernocoeur and Matalaniec accounts are for high value residential properties.

  • Connecticut Light & Power Co. — $5,649,517
  • BDRM Inc. — $4,197,840
  • Mislick Family Limited Partnership — $3,300,150
  • Silgan Plastics Corp. — $3,079,637
  • Deep River Associates LLC — $2,695,770
  • Connecticut Water co. — $2,587,473
  • 180 Main St. Partners LLC — $2,314,620
  • Thomas Boyd & K. Dernocoeur — $2,269,930
  • Goodspeed Lasng Co. LLC — $2,218,790
  • Zbigniew Matulaniec — $2,159,290

CANCELLED: Tickets on Sale for Thursday’s Vintage Valentine’s Soiree, Benefits Deep River Rotary

2/7 This event has been cancelled.

DEEP RIVER — Charles Shultz once said “all you need is love … but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt!”Vintage_Valentine

Lots of chocolate will be among the treats at the Vintage Valentine’s soiree on Thursday, Feb. 11, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., hosted by the Deep River Rotary and Lyme-Old Lyme Junior Women’s Club at the beautiful Deep River Town Hall Auditorium/Theater.

Along with chocolate, you can fill your evening with decadent hors d’oeuvres, chilled champagne (and wine and beer), and sweets as you dance the night away to the tunes of the Shiny Lapel Trio.  Foods are being prepared by local restaurants, including The Cheese Shop of Centerbrook, Alforno, Penny Lane Pub and The Ivory.

The ticket cost is $45 per person and supports the many humanitarian projects of the Deep River Rotary and the Lyme-Old Lyme Junior Women’s Club.

For tickets visit the Deep River Town Hall at 174 Main St. in Deep River, or Shore Discount Liquors next to the Deep River Post Office, or go online to

Questions? Email:


New Train Station Parking Lot Opened with Ribbon Cutting

Rep. Devin Carney, Sen. Paul Formica and Sen. Art Linares (L-R) joined with state transportation officials and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of the new 200-space parking lot at the Old Saybrook train station.

Rep. Devin Carney, Sen. Paul Formica and Sen. Art Linares (L-R) joined with state transportation officials and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of the new 200-space parking lot at the Old Saybrook train station.

OLD SAYBROOK – On Feb. 4, the new 200-space parking lot at the Old Saybrook train station was officially opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman, state DOT Commissioner Jim Redeker, and local elected representatives.

According to a release from Nancy Wyman’s office, the ribbon cutting for “the new $2.5 million rail station expansion in Old Saybrook … celebrates the completion of 200 parking spaces, sidewalks, a bus shelter, and other improvements. The Shoreline East carries about 600,000 passengers per year.”

With the 200 new parking spaces, there are now 324 parking spaces at the station available to commuters, free of charge.

The Shoreline East website further notes: “Free parking is also available to commuters along both sides of 3 North Main Street. Please note overnight parking in this area is prohibited. There is a third, privately owned parking lot located East of the Old Saybrook train station, adjacent to the shops, which allows overnight parking for a fee. An envelope will be left on your car window with which to mail in your payment. Shore Line East is not affiliated with this parking area.”

More information at



Letter from Paris: Marmottan Monet Museum Offers Rare Glimpse Inside Villa Flora

Nicole Prévost Logan

Nicole Prévost Logan

It is a well kept secret that Switzerland’s private foundations own a wealth of art works. Swiss law does not require them to be registered commercially and offers them favorable tax and legal conditions, creating thus a “paradise” for art collectors. The Villa Flora, in Winterthur near Zurich, is one of the richest of these family foundations. Since the museum is under renovation this winter, its contents found a temporary home at the Marmottan Monet museum in Paris and currently form the Villa Flora exhibition subtitled, “A Time of Enchantment.”

In 1898 Hedy Hahnloser inherited from her father, a well-to-do textile industrialist, a large house and moved in with Arthur, her husband. For a short time, Arthur practiced ophthalmology in the clinic he installed on the property but soon the couple became fully engaged in the passion of their life, which was to create long-lasting friendships with painters and to collect their works.

Over the years, the rambling house was turned into a studio and an art gallery — every available space was used to place the paintings. Hedy had always been interested in arts and crafts and in the English movement by that name. She decorated her house’s parquets and wainscots with the geometric designs characteristic of the 1897 “Viennese Recession” led by Gustav Klimt.

A trip to Paris in 1908 was for the couple a total immersion into the frantic artistic scene of the French capital. Braque and Picasso were experimenting with cubism, while the Fauvist movement was at its pinnacle. The natural flair of the Hahnlosers in selecting art work was sharpened by their contacts with art merchants like Ambroise Vollard and Gaston Bernheim.

During that trip they met and struck up a friendship with Felix Valloton (1865-1925), who became a close friend, spent much time at the Villa Flora and also introduced them to the artistic circles of Paris. They remained friends until his death. For the Swiss couple to welcome artists and hold Tuesday coffees became a way of life.

One can compare their creative and welcoming home with the boarding house in Old Lyme, Conn., where Florence Griswold invited American Impressionists. Or consider Gertrude Stein and her brother Leo who, like Arthur and Hedy, opened their “salon” on 27 rue de Fleurus to artists and writers. And in yet another example, in the late 19th century, Russia also had its own artist colonies, which grew around enlightened members of the nobility. The best known was Abramtsevo, near Moscow, created by the industrialist Savva Mamontov.

Pierre Bonnard, Débarcadère (or L'Embarcadère) de Cannes, 1928-1934

Pierre Bonnard, Débarcadère (or L’Embarcadère) de Cannes, 1928-1934

The Hahnlosers’ collection contained works by Cezanne, Van Gogh, Manet, Renoir, Matisse, Toulouse-Lautrec, the symbolist Odilon Redon and many others. But it is the abundance of Nabis’ art, which made it quite unique.

It was a post-impressionist movement in the mid 1890s. “Nabi” means prophet in Hebrew and Arabic. The leading members of this group — Maurice Denis, Felix Vallotton , Pierre Bonnard, Edouard Vuillard — considered themselves as the prophets of a new era in the arts. Each one had his distinctive style, but there was always a message behind their way of depicting reality, whether it was religious, intellectual or emotional. They were versatile artists, working in oil, and also lithography, wood cuts, satirical drawings, and book or poster illustration.

Vallotton stylized his subjects and used the technique of “aplats” or flat areas of contrasting colors with sharp outlines. There is a feeling of enigmatic emptiness in his works. “La Charette” or cart drives away on a deserted dirt road, two slender umbrella pines contrast with the darker mass of trees bordering the road.

Le provincial,” pictured above, shows a couple in a cafe. One barely sees the profile of the elegant woman wearing a huge hat. The feather on the hat and the ruffled blouse are the only bright notes in this scene of a non-communicating couple in the male chauvinistic society at the turn of the 20th century.

Vallotton’ masterpiece is “La Blanche et la Noire” (The White and the Black). A white woman is lying, unabashedly naked, on a bed while a black woman is staring at her with insolence and a sort of inappropriate familiarity, a cigarette is sticking out of her mouth. The painting is reminiscent of the “Olympia” by Manet but with a different underlying story.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Bonnard’s paintings have an effusive and warm quality. His colors are luminous, his brush strokes seem unbridled, full of life. He is inspired by the intimacy of domestic scenes — “Le Tub” is a picture within a picture thanks to the mirror placed at the center of the composition. A plunging angle reveals Marthe, his wife and beloved model, near the tub.

Pierre Bonnard, Le Thé, 1917

Pierre Bonnard, Le Thé, 1917

Bonnard cherished his villa in the Var, not far from Cannes. “Le Thé” is a peaceful scene of young women having tea . He plays with an array of hat colors. The vegetation seems to overflow into the porch. On “Le Debarcadère” or pier, young people lean over a railing, as if frozen in the contemplation of the rough Mediterranean waters.

This is indeed a rare opportunity to see an exceptional private art collection created by two extraordinary citizens, who according to the exhibition’s guide, lived their lives by following a simple mantra, “Living for art. Collecting. Such was the raison d’être of [this] couple.”

Nicole Prévost LoganAbout the author: Nicole Prévost Logan divides her time between Essex and Paris, spending summers in the former and winters in the latter. She writes a regular column for us from her Paris home where her topics will include politics, economy, social unrest — mostly in France — but also in other European countries. She also covers a variety of art exhibits and the performing arts in Europe. Logan is the author of ‘Forever on the Road: A Franco-American Family’s Thirty Years in the Foreign Service,’ an autobiography of her life as the wife of an overseas diplomat, who lived in 10 foreign countries on three continents. Her experiences during her foreign service life included being in Lebanon when civil war erupted, excavating a medieval city in Moscow and spending a week under house arrest in Guinea.


Take Your Child to the Library Day in Chester, Saturday

anne nord reading to kids a

Chester Children’s Librarian Anne Nord (who’s known as Mrs. Applesauce to the kids of Chester) reads her favorite read-aloud book. Photo by Linda Fox

CHESTER — What is the favorite read-aloud book of Chester First Selectman Lauren Gister, Chester Elementary School Principal Joanne Beekley, and Chester Town Clerk Debra Calamari?

Come to Take Your Child to the Library Day at the Chester Public Library on Saturday morning, Feb. 6, and you’ll find out. Between 10 a.m. and noon, these Chester notables, and others, will take turns reading their favorite read-aloud book to visiting children. Children and their parents can also enjoy family crafts and refreshments during the morning.

The library is also taking an informal survey of favorite read-aloud story books. Write the title of your favorite read-aloud book and drop it in the tiny box at the front desk. Anyone can submit a title.

The Chester Library is at 21 West Main St., Chester. More information at 860-526-0018.

Take Your Child to the Library Day (TYCLD) is an international initiative that encourages families everywhere to take their children to their local library. Launched in 2011 right here in Connecticut by librarians Nadine Lipman (Waterford Public Library, retired) and Caitlin Augusta (Stratford Library) with artist Nancy Elizabeth Wallace, TYCLD raises community awareness about the importance of the library in the life of a child, and promotes library services and programs for children and families.


Double Reed Ensemble Hosts Free Concert & Masterclass, Saturday

AREAWIDE – Community Music School and the Laurel Double Reed Ensemble will present a concert and master class on Saturday, Feb. 6, at 2 p.m. at the Centerbrook Meetinghouse, 51 Main Street, Centerbrook.

The Laurel Double Reed Ensemble is an eclectic and educational organization comprised of Anne Megan, oboe; Tamar Beach Wells, oboe d’amore; Marilyn Krentzman, English horn; and Rebecca Noreen, bassoon. They perform for schools and communities throughout Connecticut, showcasing the unusual and beautiful sounds of the double reed instruments.

At the Feb. 6 concert, the ensemble will perform a 45-minute “Arts in Education” program geared as an introduction to the double reed instrument family. The diverse musical program ranges from Let it Go from Frozen, to the traditional classical styles of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Franz Joseph Haydn. A master class with student performers will follow the performance.

The concert and master class are free and open to the public of all ages; at-will donations will be graciously accepted.

If you would like to participate in the master class, call Community Music School to reserve a spot, 860-767-0026.

Editor’s Note: Community Music School offers innovative music programming for infants through adults, building on a 30-year tradition of providing quality music instruction to residents of shoreline communities. CMS programs cultivate musical ability and creativity and provide students with a thorough understanding of music so that they can enjoy playing and listening for their entire lives. For additional information visit or call 860-767-0026.


Wesleyan Professor to Discuss Post-World War II Policies at Essex Library, Saturday

Professor Sarah Willarty

Professor Sarah Willarty

Germany and Japan faced immense challenges in 1945 as these countries attempted to recover from World War II while simultaneously pursuing democracy and prosperity. How Germany and Japan met these challenges varied based on their international positions, their geographies and their cultural legacies.

This lecture analyzes similarities and differences in German and Japanese approaches to winning the peace.  The Essex Library is honored to welcome Dr. Sarah Wiliarty who will give a talk on “Winning Peace: Lessons from Post-War Policies, 1945-1950” at the Essex Library on Saturday, Feb. 6, at 2 p.m. This program is part of the Library’s focus on history during the month of February.

Sarah Wiliarty is an Associate Professor of Government at Wesleyan University. She received her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley and a B.A. in Physics from Harvard University. Her book, The CDU and the Politics of Gender in Germany: Bringing Women to the Party was published by Cambridge University Press in 2010.

This program is free and open to all. Call the Library to register in advance at (860) 767-1560. The Library is located at 33 West Ave. in Essex.


Essex Winter Series Presents Master Class for Strings, April 4

Community Music School and Essex Winter Series will present a Master Class with violinist Tessa Lark on Monday, April 4, at 4 p.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church, 109 Main St., Centerbrook. Tessa will offer advice on technique and performance for student musicians who will each play during the class. The Master Class is free and open to the public.

Tessa Lark is the Fenton Brown Emerging Artist for the 2016 Essex Winter Series. Prior to the Master Class, Tessa will perform the Beethoven Violin Concerto with the New Haven Symphony Orchestra on Sunday, April 3 at 3 p.m. at Valley Regional High School. Winner of the prestigious Naumburg International Violin Competition in 2012, Tessa one of the most captivating artistic voices of her time.

As part of its outreach program, Essex Winter Series brings highly accomplished young artists to public schools and senior residences in several shoreline communities each year. This year’s outreach program expands to two cities, four towns, seven schools, three senior residences, and two community service organizations over the course of just three days, from April 4 to 6. These outreach programs are sponsored by the EWS Fenton Brown Circle and Community Music School.

For additional information, visit or call 860-767-0026.



Want to Paint a Rooster? Watch Cindy Stevens at Maple & Main on Sunday

stevens - roosterCHESTER – Maple and Main Gallery of Fine Arts artist Cindy Stevens will give an informal demonstration of pallette knife painting this Sunday, Feb. 7, from 11:30 a.m. to about 1:30 p.m. at the gallery. Stevens plans to paint a colorful rooster using her well-practiced pallette knife approach. Come watch and learn from her, while helping the gallery celebrate “Always on Sunday” in Chester.

Stevens is a longtime resident of Clinton, where she owns her own gallery at 30 East Main St. She comes from a family of artists. Her mom, Shirley Price, was a pen and ink artist, and her brother and sister both paint professionally.

As well as her East Main Street gallery, Stevens has owned and operated Snow’s Block Frame Gallery in her home for 24 years. She grew up in Connecticut, and has lived in Clinton with her husband Gary for 34 years.  She has two grown children and one granddaughter.

For more information about “Always on Sunday,” visit

For more information about Maple and Main Gallery, visit


Community Music School Presents Glee for Grownups in Concert, Sunday

Glee for Grownups CMSCENTERBROOK – Community Music School (CMS) presents an entertaining performance by members of the CMS Glee for Grownups vocal group on Sunday, Feb. 7, at 2 p.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church, 109 Main Street, Centerbrook.

Under the direction of Karli Gilbertson, CMS Artist in Residence, and accompanied by Deborah Lyon, the group of nine adult students will perform Scottish music featuring ensemble and solo performances. A selection of some of the titles to be performed include such old favorites as “Loch Lomond,” “Amazing Grace,” “Annie Laurie,” and “My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose.” There will be at least one singer dressed in a kilt!

The concert is open to the public and free of charge.

More information is available by calling 860-767-0026 or visiting


Chester Land Trust Erects New Signs on Its Properties

Richard Harrall, Chester Land Trust president (left) and Bill Meyers, Trustee, installed new Land Trust signs. Photo by Vivian Beyda

Richard Harrall, Chester Land
Trust president (left) and Bill Meyers, Trustee, installed new Land Trust signs. Photo by Vivian Beyda

CHESTER –  The Chester Land Trust, an all-volunteer non-profit organization in Chester, provides stewardship for 10 preserves and three easements. These properties are protected for open space in perpetuity.

Recently, new Land Trust signs have been installed on Rte. 154 by the bridge and along  Water Street for the Chester Creek preserve (46 acres in three  parcels). Another sign was placed on the south side of Rte. 148 near Camp Hazen for the Duck Pond Preserve (6.1 acres).

More information about the organization is at



Container Design Trends for 2016: A Program by White Flower Farm, April 3

Barbara Pierson, White Flower Farm

Barbara Pierson, White Flower Farm

ESSEX – The possibilities are endless with container gardening. The gardener’s choices include everything from the container to the plants, and experience is essential when making decisions.

Nursery Manager Barbara Pierson has been creating container gardens both at home and at White Flower Farm for over 20 years, and no one knows more about which plants are tried and true and which are promising new introductions.

Learn from her illustrated talk about current trends in container gardening on Sunday, April 3 at 1 p.m. at the Essex Town Hall, in a program sponsored by the Essex Garden Club and the Essex Library.

Barbara Pierson has been with White Flower Farm for 17 years. A graduate of Cornell University, with a degree in floriculture and ornamental horticulture, Barb developed a passion for plants at an early age at her parents’ nursery. She’s now a frequent guest on national and local radio and television and is often interviewed as a gardening expert by national publications.

This program is free and open to the public. Please call the Essex Library to register or for more information at (860)767-1560. The Essex Town Hall is located at 29 West Avenue in Essex.


Free Seminar Gives Tips on “Aging Gracefully,” April 3

IVORYTON – “Aging Gracefully,” a free seminar at the Ivoryton Library, will be presented by Jo Anne Harrison-Becker, MS (Gerontology & Community Psychology) on Sunday, April 3 at 3 p.m.

The Aging Gracefully Seminar offers educational, informational and motivational topics related to physical and emotional health, nutrition, fitness, memory, mindfulness, the environment, and  inspiration/encouragement. Handouts are provided and the session concludes with a guided meditation.

This seminar covers the following topics:
* 5 Easy Muscle Toning Exercises
* Laughter is the Best Medicine
* Symptoms, Causes and Signs of Stress
* What You Can Do to Stay Healthy
* Put Your Best Foot Forward
* What to Do When You’ve Had a Setback

The Ivoryton Library is located at 106 Main Street in Ivoryton.  To register, please call (860) 767-1252.
For more information, visit


Gowrie Group Leads the Way to Raise $1 Million for Shoreline Soup Kitchens

(left to right): Ed Gumbrecht, Gowrie Group; Patty Dowling, SSKP executive director; Whitney Peterson, Gowrie Group; Lindas Dillon, Gowrie Group & SSKP board; Carter Gowrie; Rev. Martha Bays, SSKP board chair; Barbara Whitcher, SSKP board; and Claire Bellerjeau, SSKP.

The Gowrie Challenge raised over $150,000 in 2015 for Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries. Shown (L-R): Ed Gumbrecht, Gowrie Group; Patty Dowling, SSKP executive director; Whitney Peterson, Gowrie Group; Lindas Dillon, Gowrie Group & SSKP board; Carter Gowrie; Rev. Martha Bays, SSKP board chair; Barbara Whitcher, SSKP board; and Claire Bellerjeau, SSKP.

AREAWIDE – The results are in for the 2015 Gowrie Challenge. This was a record-breaking year — more than 400 businesses and individuals raised more this year than ever before: over $150,400.

Over the past 12 years, the Gowrie Challenge has raised over one million dollars for the Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries (SSKP). Surpassing this “Million Dollar Mark” was possible through thousands of contributions given since 2004 by caring and committed members of the shoreline community.

This year’s goal was achieved with the combined effort of many, including “Partner Sponsors” L.C. Doane (Ivoryton), Safety Zone (Essex), Lenny & Joe’s Fish Tale (Westbrook and Madison), the Tariq Farid Foundation (Wallingford), and Tower Labs (Essex). The Challenge also had generous media sponsors – Shore Publishing and WLIS/WMRD – helping to spread the word about hunger on the shoreline.

Once again this year two special community events raised additional funds for the Challenge – the Benefit Concert at The Kate and the “Ahavah” ballet by the Christian Academy of Dance.

Most important, the 12th Annual Gowrie Challenge funds will provide enough food for more than 385,800 meals. This nutritious food will fill the shelves at SSKP’s five weekly pantries, and will be given to those who are struggling to feed themselves and their families.

Carter Gowrie, CEO and Founder of Gowrie Group, which is located in Westbrook, said, “Since 2004 we have partnered with the Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries to feed our neighbors and those in need. I am extremely proud to be part of a local community that comes together each year to support this challenge and to have raised over one million dollars to benefit the SSKP.”

Patty Dowling, Executive Director of the Shoreline Soup Kitchens, said, “The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries is so grateful for Gowrie Group’s support, and all those who contributed to the Gowrie Challenge this year. This campaign shows the commitment of our community to caring for others. On behalf of the thousands of those we serve every year, I say thank you!”

Gowrie Group and the Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries are proud of all that they have accomplished in the past 12 years of partnership, and both look forward to continuing the annual Gowrie Challenge in future years.


Two Authors to Speak at AAUW Book Author Lunch, April 2

Lisa Reisman

Lisa Reisman

AREAWIDE – The Lower Connecticut Valley Branch of the AAUW (American Association of University Women) will hold its annual Book Author Luncheon on Saturday, April 2, at 11:30 a.m. at the Saybrook Point Inn.  The featured authors are Lisa Reisman and Kate West.  The event includes lunch, a silent auction and raffle baskets.  Tickets are $50 (cash or checks please) and support AAUW’s mission to provide educational grants to Connecticut women.

Lisa Reisman is an area freelance writer for newspapers and magazines. Her memoir as a cancer survivor and tri-athlete is 5 Months, 10 Years, 2 Hours. Many people personally know how cancer affects family and friends as well as the patient; Lisa beautifully depicts this struggle with vivid characterizations and prose you will find mesmerizing.  It is a victorious journey through honest emotions, mechanisms for coping, humor and resilience, resulting in a reborne zest for life, especially given her initial diagnosis predicted a year survival for her brain tumor. In a review, Santa Fe Writers Project said, “This book is like a ticking clock.  It is an excellent memoir that uses the narrator’s battle with cancer, even in its trim form, as a springboard into so much more.”

Lisa describes herself as a “recovered lawyer” who left a Manhattan firm; she majored in Greek and Latin at Yale and Oxford with a University of Virginia law degree.  She has won many writers fellowships in her journey to her new life on the Connecticut shoreline. Lisa also manages the Sin Sisters’ Band and says, “Being around them—hearing their lively, make-you-dance-like-nobody’s-watching music—just makes everything seem all right.”

Kate West

Kate West


Kate West studied at the Art Students League in New York, taught art to schoolchildren, acted in front and behind a camera, and is now writing books and producing a TV series.  Originally from Madison, Kate now lives in Los Angeles.  Her children’s book, La Befana and the Star, is her first book of an expected series.  Italian children celebrate the legend of La Befana on January 6, as Kate did as a youngster. In Kate’s version, La Befana notices the brightest star she has ever seen in the Christmas Eve sky, which inspires her to bake star cookies.  They are filled with so much La Befana love that the townspeople she gives them to also feel the love.

Mangia Magic with La Befana and her Friends is a 26-series project Kate is producing for a future TV show.  Focusing on current trends towards healthy family eating and global cultural education, the show will feature famous chefs like the shoreline’s Jacques Pepin and other celebrities who will share their family style, recipes and culture with Kate and three special puppets.  Kate’s dad, Ken Shuey, has been her illustrator, puppet designer and composer of the theme song for her show. An artist also, Ken teaches and exhibits his paintings as well as illustrating for other authors.

For more information about the luncheon and to make reservations, contact Sally Keating by mail at 24 Sea Lane-Cornfield Point, Old Saybrook 06475 or by email


Marshview Gallery Exhibits Cindy Fiano Photography in April

AOM Cindy Fiano April 2016aOLD SAYBROOK – During April, local photographer Cindy Fiano will exhibit her works at the Marshview Gallery at the Estuary Council of Seniors, Inc. – Regional Senior Center in Old Saybrook.

Cindy’s photography is inspired by serene seascapes and graceful birds located on the beaches and marshes in Old Saybrook and nearby shore towns. She spends countless hours walking the many area beaches.

Her biggest inspiration has been to capture and share the beauty in the common that often gets overlooked. Seagulls are a favorite subject. Cindy calls seagulls “intelligent, clever and extremely adaptable.” She appreciates that she can always count on them being on the beach no matter what the weather conditions are.

A reception to see Cindy’s photographs and to meet her will be held on Friday, April 8, from 5 to 7 p.m. Refreshments will be provided.

The Estuary Council of Seniors is at 220 Main Street, Old Saybrook.


Free Tax Preparation Help Available Until April 12

AREAWIDE — Low- and moderate-income families can receive free tax preparation in Middlesex County. Households with income up to $53,000 are eligible for free tax preparation assistance now through April 12 at local Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites, and households with income of up to $62,000 can prepare their taxes free online at

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is an official IRS program, and all tax preparers are trained and certified to ensure that low- to moderate-income families receive the refunds and credits that they have earned, including the federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits and the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit.

Appointments are required and are being offered during the evenings and on Saturdays in downtown Middletown. To make an appointment, dial 2-1-1 (available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week) or visit

Individuals should bring a check or bank statement for direct deposit of their refund. Direct deposit is the quickest way to receive the refund, usually within 7 to 14 days.

When attending their pre-scheduled appointment, individuals should bring: valid photo ID for yourself and your spouse; social security cards or ITIN for everyone in the household; birth dates for everyone in the family; documentation for all income; interest and dividend statements; documentation for deductible education expenses and student loan payments; total amount paid for child care as well as day care provider’s tax identification number and address; property taxes paid, including automobile taxes; evidence of health care coverage in 2015; a copy of last year’s federal and state income tax returns, if available; and the current year’s tax package if available.

In 2015 the two VITA sites in Middletown helped more than 570 local households file their taxes for free and returned $773,120 back to taxpayers in the Middletown area. The sites are coordinated by the Middlesex VITA Coalition, a partnership of Middlesex United Way and the North End Action Team. The coalition receives support from the Connecticut Association of Human Services.

Households with income up to $62,000 last year can prepare their state and federal taxes for free at MyFreeTaxes tax filing software is provided by H&R Block and is sponsored by United Way, with a grant from the Walmart Foundation.


Tractor Supply Company, National FFA Foundation Offer “Grants for Growing”

OLD SAYBROOK – Tractor Supply Company has launched its national “Grants for Growing” program, which allows opportunities for local Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapters to make their communities a better place to live.  The deadline for local FFA chapters to sign up for this competitive grant process is Feb. 15. The in-store event to raise funds by allowing Tractor Supply shoppers to donate $1 at checkout will run Feb. 19-28.

Tractor Supply is located at 400 Boston Post Rd. in Old Saybrook.

In partnership with the National FFA Foundation, the “Grants for Growing” program raises funds for local FFA chapter initiatives and awards minimum $500 competitive grants to participating chapters. While $500 is the minimum grant amount that will be awarded to selected chapters, there is no cap on the amount of funding that a chapter can choose to request for its project.

If selected, chapters can use the funds in a number of ways to benefit their community including buying vegetation, trees, seed, chickens, feed, mulch or tools to help start or expand an FFA project that will continue for years to come.

Chapter advisors are required to complete the grant application, and eligibility will be based on the evaluation of how the money will be used, volunteer hours, and promotional activities during the fundraising period.  The grant application can be found at

For more information on Tractor Supply, access the website at


Community Music School Hosts Open House Week, Feb. 1-5

Suzuki Violin StudentCENTERBROOK – Community Music School (CMS), located in the Spencer’s Corner professional complex at 90 Main St. in Centerbrook, invites the general public to visit during Open House Week, Feb. 1 – 5.

Children and adults can tour the school’s studios, meet teachers and staff, enjoy a free preview lesson, and learn about a vast array of programs for all ages, including private and group lessons, clarinet, jazz, and string ensembles, music therapy services,  and Kindermusik.

Community Music School is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday to Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays. If interested in a 15-minute free preview lesson, call 860-767-0026 for scheduling.

Community Music School offers innovative music programming for infants through adults, building on a 30-year tradition of providing quality music instruction to residents of shoreline communities. The school’s programs cultivate musical ability and creativity and provide students with a thorough understanding of music so that they can enjoy playing and listening for their entire lives.

For additional information, visit or call 860-767-0026.